The Banquet Kitchen - Planning & Executing A Large Buffet

The Banquet Kitchen - Planning & Executing A Large Buffet

If you want to keep people happy, keep the food and entertainment rolling!!

Hospitality is one industry where you can do both. The hospitality industry, particularly the F&B segment is a myriad of activities that make up the services offered to the guests. 

As a professional belonging to the culinary world, every chef worth his salt needs to be equipped with the know-how of running a successful show. Be it an Ala-carte for an individual or a group of people, or laying out lavish spreads for events and big gatherings, the crux of a good meal and good times spent with family, friends & associates lies in the meticulous planning and the little details that go into making a memorable experience.

Entertainment is alright, but entertainment with an idea behind is much more important. The winning edge lies in fact that every guest loves an event that is customized to suit the occasion. A premeditated and brilliantly executed event provides a truly unique personal experience for guests.

At ICCA, we incorporate this learning for our students as a simulated experience of an event as they would encounter in a working environment. The Graduation Buffet Lunch is a much awaited and looked forward to occasion at the school. For the students it is a day where they get to discover & gain knowledge of what exactly goes in to cater & mass produce to serve a sizeable number of guests. It also presents an opportunity for the student to select food from all corners of the world and various cultural backgrounds. For the guests who are the families & friends of the graduating students, in addition to a few guests from the industry, it is an affair where they get treated to all the food prepared with careful planning and much love.

 

 

This is what goes behind the scenes for a Graduation Buffet Lunch at the ICCA:

1. Event Briefing & Team Selection

  • The students are briefed on the upcoming event, the number of people expected at the gathering and information of special invitees if any.
  • The batch is segregated into groups & teams and a team leader appointed for each team along with the Head Chef of the Event. The plan of action is designed so that everyone has clarity on what needs to be done and the responsibility of each member & his contribution to the D-day.

2. Menu Preference & Budgeting

  • The next step is the Budgeting & Costing, an integral activity for planning any event. A clear indication of the monies available to spend & cleverly brainstorming the frugal ways of making the most using the least, is the sign of a successful event. One that leaves both the guests & cost-sheets smiling!
  • Perfecting the Menu is next making sure that there is something to suit every palette. From the welcome drink, salads & starters with accompanying condiments; to the spread of bread, rolls & cheese; the entrées to the live cooking station; and finally to the grand mains. As with any menu or establishment the chefs will take into account any dietary requirements and prepare food accordingly.

Patisserie has its own field time presenting an exquisite and lavish assortment of desserts made to melt the strongest resolve. The display makes one feel guilty of not having indulged in the party should one decide to keep away from the decadent sweet offerings.

3. Execution & Production

  • With the ingredients bought in accordance to the menu options; comes the preparation, the excitement, the supervision, the sometimes unavoidable mishaps, the encouragement, the time-line management for every step in production to make sure that each ingredient is ready for the dish in preparation. The chefs have to be thinking on their feet to face and solve issues as they arise to complete all tasks to the highest standards.
  • The ingredients thus prepared are tagged & stored appropriately for the final finishing on the day of the event.

4. Presentation & Style

  • Food is the only thing we know that makes use of all our senses. We eat first with our eyes and so presentation is the key to get things started on the right note. It is all about the visual appeal and giving a creative thought to what can really add the cherry on the top.
  • Whilst the guests are enjoying the buffet, care needs to be taken that every station is manned and every serving bowl replenished as needed. The chefs themselves form part of the presentation, looking smart and ready to answer any queries put forth by the guests. 

5. Guest Experience

Ultimately it is all about guest experience and seeing their face light up after having enjoyed a delicious meal. Good food puts people in a good mood and the applause & appreciation is sure to then follow.

6. The Wrap-Up

The post-show activities are an equally important part of the event to complete the circle. In a buffet there will always be some food that is unused and rather than thrashing it, it’s only prudent that the items that can be salvaged & later utilized be packed & stored away in the manner prescribed, keeping in mind rules around food hygiene & safety.

Boots on the ground and hands on the pan aren’t the only things that one needs to run an impressive show. It takes a lot of action, with a dash of drama and coupled with calmness that only comes through first-hand experience. We push our students in the ring of fire through their training so that when they emerge as graduates you have a chef that knows how to keep the food and entertainment rolling!!

 

Shagufta Patel

Shagufta Patel

People Development Specialist